New “Kapaemahu” exhibit at Bishop Museum

by Kamaka Pili | June 16, 2022 | KHON2 News

HONOLULU (KHON2) – When you’re walking through Waikiki, next to the police station there are four stones within a fenced enclosure. 

It’s known as the Wizard Stones, but that is not the most accurate depiction of what they are and the stories they share.

At the Bishop Museum, there is a brand new exhibit entitled “The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu” to help all of us to learn more about these stones and the message that it carries. 

So, to find out more, we’re here with one of the curators and historian of Bishop Museum, DeSoto Brown. 

Tell us a little bit about this exhibit and what can we expect to see.

“This is an exhibit in Bishop Museum’s Castle Building.  It runs from right now to October of this year and it is telling the story, as you said, of the healer stones of Kapaemahu which are located in Waikiki,” said Brown.

“The stones themselves have been through an amazing transition from a rural area into the modern bustling, crowded city that they are located in now.  And one of the things we want to get across mainly is the story of who the healers really were. Who is commemorated by these stones?  They are the Kapaemahu, the role of mahu. That’s the story we want to tell. How else does that fit into society now, what was the traditional role of people who were mahu in the past, what’s the role of people who are mahu in the pacific today?  And not only that, but the fact also that they were healers, the fact that we have lost a lot of the traditional healing knowledge which was associated with the mahu who we are talking about here.”

Thank you very much, DeSoto. 

But I want to get in another person who can speak more about this and that is Kumu Hina who is a very prominent figure within not just this exhibit, but the film that this has been based off of. 

If you don’t mind, Kumu Hina, can you share your perspective of what Kapaemahu represents.

“Kapaemahu, for me, represents rendering of our history, rendering of 4 wonderful, marvelous individuals that journeyed from across thousands of miles of ocean from the lands of Kahiki and they brought with them the knowledge of healing and the skill of making people well,” said Kumu Hina.

I have to say that the time that this comes out in the world that we live in today, there is no better time than now. 

What does that mean for you that this exhibit is here for people to learn from?

“This exhibit is here during this time where we come away from a world that has been impacted by the covid, the coronavirus. And we see that everybody has now been on heightened sensitivity,” said Kumu Hina.

“And what better story can we bring to the world than the story of healing and it just so happen that these healers that brought their skill and knowledge to Hawaii happen to be of dual spirit. They were of male and female spirit and that’s what made them the powerful healers that they were. They were not just one or the other, but they had elements of both that made them all the more special.”

Here at the Bishop Museum, the Healer Stones of Kapaemahu exhibit opens up to the public this Saturday, June 18.

And separately, to find out more about what mahu means, be sure to catch our previous Aloha Authentic episode where I speak with Kumu Hina to learn more about that.

For all the information on this exhibit, click here.